Leeds nostalgia: June 1947: A hanging in Armley

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On June 20, 1947, Eric Charles Briggs, 40, of Caledonian Road, Leeds, was hanged at Armley Gaol. He was convicted of the murder of his wife, Gertrude, 49, a kitchen hand, on February 10. She was found at the junction of Calverley Street and Fenton Street with 47 stab wounds.

Briggs, a weaver, confessed to the crime during interviews with police and went into detail about her injuries and the location of the incident.

However, his case took a curious turn after another man, Dennis Wood, a 19-year-old soldier, who had earlier been convicted of attempting to murder two other women, also admitted to the murder of Gertrude.

Wood even gave an account of how he used a bayonet to stab his victim but this was thrown out by the jury.

Wood’s case was printed in the Evening Post on May 14, during which it was stated he was insane. He viciously attacked two women, leaving them both with serious, life threatening injuries, stabbing them multiple times in the face and upper body and fracturing one woman’s jaw. Under cross examination, he blamed ‘voices in his head’, which he said prompted him to commit the crimes.

Following this second confession, Briggs’ defence team lodged an appeal but this was rejected.

Summing up in the Briggs case, Mr Justice Humphreys said Briggs account of the crime was irrefutable as it contained details about the location and nature of the injuries to Gertrude which could ‘only have been known by the murderer.’ When he was hanged, the ‘EP’ noted: “A curious knot of half a dozen sightseers, including four women [gathered] outside the jail and saw a notice saying the execution had been carried out.”

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